Lecture 2: May 16, 2013
Chapter 1 and 2
What is Social-Cultural Anthropology?
- 4 subfields: Biological, archaeology, linguistics, and Cultural
- Cultural anthropology is the study of human society and culture, the subfield that describes,
analyzes, interprets and explains social and cultural similarities and differences. It is particularly
concerned with exploring Cultural adaptation.
- Skin color is an example of human biological adaptation. Higher level of sun gives darker skin,
to protect from UV. Lighter Skin: have colder climate.
- Cultural: city building , different way of organizing economic, food supplier allow different
pattern to live in.
- Difference in food habits. All people in world eat food, we all eat it differently, have diff
classification. We adapt diff cultural rules in how to eat food (follow).
- Whereas biological anthropologist explore how humans evolve and adapt biologically, cultural
anthropologists focus on cultural adaptation.
- All humans share certain biological features and engage in similar biological processes (eating,
sleeping, having sexual relations, physical needs etc).
- All this happens in a huge diverse way, this is what anthropologist try to understand. Its culture
that determine how we go with our body..living.
- Culture determines how Creating in physical body we have, it also preceded modern human
A THOUSAND KINDS OF LIFE:
- As Clifford Geertz put it, we "all begin with natural equipment to live a thousand kinds of life
but end in the end having lived only one." That can only be if our natural dispositions were
subject to cultural ordering rather than the source thereof.
- Rate of cultural adaptation rapidly accelerating during the last 10,000 years Food production: cultivation of plants and domestication of animals developed 12,000 -
10,000 yrs aga (y.a)
First civilizations developed 6000 to 5000 BP (Before the present)
Spread of industrial production and take-off population
- One of the primary goals of anthropology is to make the strange familiar and the familiar
strange. Thinking our way of life strange, thinking other life as familiar. Learning about others!
- Cultural anthropology developed historically as the study of "Other" (non-European) cultures
(making the strange familiar)
- It has also served to help Anthropologists questions and think more critically about their own
societies and cultures (making the familiar strange)
- They work with bankers, scientist, they study any kind of human practice.
WHAT IS CULTURE
- Latin: Cultura - "Cultivation"
- Is used in modern language, has linguistic history - comes a Latin word.
- European usage began in 1700-1800s
- Implied process of improvement or betterment of the individual, especially through education.
E.G. The European Grand Tour: travel around famous European art, Paris, museum,
- Those with culture were deemed "civilized"
- Those lacking culture were seen as "uncivilized" and "living in a state of nature".
- Non-European originally viewed by Europeans as lacking "culture" (civilization) or biological
concept, lacked to be civilized
- "Culture...is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom,
and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society" - Edward B. Tylor
in Primitive Culture (1871).
- Also the way we physical act, eating, shake hands, day to day life activity.
- Culture is something that is ACQUIRED, we do it by being a Member of the group. We are
- Humans share society with other animals and organisms, but culture is what sets up apart from
other organisms. - Society refers to dividing humans in diff groups, sharing with other animals. Eg, ants, queen
ants. Other diff animals divide groups up in particular roles that they take on.
- What do you think of when you hear or use the term culture? - dressing, eating, language
Ice berg of Culture: 1) communication style 2) Beliefs: they way we understand the world. 3)
Attitudes: are values our morals. 4) Values 5) Perceptions: diff way people perceive: nature.
--> all humans have the capacity for culture. People express culture in diff way. C capital in
Culture, is that everything is shared. Small C, all diff form the culture takes.
--> some cultural features (such as incest taboos) are shared by all peoples.
--> Some cultural features such as nuclear family are shared by many societies.
--> Some cultural features are very specific and unique to particular societies (Fraternal
Polyandry: women would be married to group of brothers). Polygamy: Husband is married to
--> How we think, believe know, and interpret
--> Explicit (conscious) - Laws. Ex, Wear a seat belt as soon as get in the car, because it is the
law made for public.
--> Tacit (unconscious) - Language rules. Body language. Unwritten rules that we know that
--> What we do
--> Verbal/non-verbal communication, greetings, eating etc...
-->What we make and use.
--> Clothing, houses, and tools, etc. - Learned
--> Children learn through process of enculturation.
--> Direct - Formal instruction. Ex, education. system is to input knowledge on people. The
way parents teach their children to eat.
--> Indirect - Observation. Ex, going out with elders in field, observe how they Hunt.
--> Unique and universal human capacity to use symbols - signs that have no direct connect
to what they stand for or signify. A symbol- arbitrary relation in sign.
--> Language/representation is an element of culture, but also the means by which culture is
transmitted and reproduced. Language and Culture are very related. Language is the process of
--> Attribute of social groups, not individuals.
--> Acquired through interaction with other members of society. E.g., Tarzan did not have
human interaction when young, thus he lacks the ability.
- All Encompassing
--> Culture is not specific, culture is encompassing.
--> All people have and "do" culture, not only sophisticated elites.
--> encompasses features that may be seen as trivial or unworthy of serious study, such as
--> Not haphazard, but integrated, patterned systems.
--> If one part changes, others will change in response.
- E.G. American women entering workforce changes notions of family, marriage, and
- The internet - social/cultural changes?
- Instrumental --> Tool we use to adapt. People use culture to fulfill basic needs (food, shelter, reproduction
--> May be adaptive if it helps human adapt to different environments. E.g., Inuit people living
in northern Canada, unique ways to hunting and living.
--> Can be maladaptive if it threatens groups continued existence.
--> Different groups struggle over whose values, beliefs, goals will be dominant (Hegemonic-
--> Culture is constantly changing, often very quickly (ex. internet)
--> Culture provides framework, but people do not always follow rules or do what they should
--> Ideal v.s. Real Culture: REAL: people actually act day to day. much more massive and
complex. Ideal: Fake.